Vertical Agrivoltaic Pilot Project Testing Effects on Microclimate, Soil and Vegetation

 

  • Engie Green, a unit of French energy company Engie, is building a pilot vertical PV project in France with the support of the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE).

The Camelia demonstrator plant is being deployed on a pasture area belonging to INRAE located in the municipality of Laqueuille, under the scientific supervision of the country’s Grassland Ecosystem Research Unit (UREP).

The 100kW pilot facility will be aimed at measuring its agronomic effects on aerial and underground microclimates and biomass growth and production, as well as on the quality of fodder, soil fertility and carbon stocks.

Engie experts will also study the behavior of cattle and the compatibility of vertical structures with the use of agricultural machinery. The company’s research center, Laborelec, will actively participate in the analysis of the system’s performance.

“A set of measurements on the microclimate, the soil, and the vegetation will allow us to identify the positive and negative effects of this installation on the ground compared to a conventional solar plant,” said Catherine Picon-Cochard, director of UREP.

For this purpose, photovoltaic hedges will be designed to adapt to agricultural activity with a minimal footprint and a simple, modular and reversible anchoring system. These will be installed on a grazed agricultural area of ​​0.9ha near a control area.

The overall Engie investment budget amounts to nearly €1 million. After several months of local consultation and the award of a building permit, construction of the installation will begin at the end of winter and the commissioning and injection of the first kilowatt-hour of solar electricity into the network is scheduled for spring 2022.

Author: Gwénaëlle Deboutte

This article was originally published in pv magazine and is republished with permission.

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